Frank Lampard has urged his out-of-sorts Chelsea players to take the last three games of an otherwise disappointing Premier League season seriously.
With three games left, the Blues will have to settle for a first bottom-half finish in England’s top flight since 1996, even if they defy the odds at Manchester City on Sunday.
Not even victories over City, Manchester United and Newcastle United down the final stretch will be enough to fire Chelsea to the top half of the table following one of the worst seasons in the club’s modern history.
However, Lampard has challenged his troops to use the last three league matches to prove their worth to incoming permanent manager Mauricio Pochettino or to catch the attention of potential suitors elsewhere.
When asked if his men can afford to treat the upcoming fixtures as ‘dead rubbers,’ the caretaker boss replied (via The Athletic): “No, absolutely (not). It is really important that they take (it like) that.
“Whatever their motivation is, whether it is to impress an incoming manager, whether it is to impress another club that they are maybe moving on to, if that’s the motivation they need, they should take it and use it.
Chelsea couldn’t have hoped for a more challenging end to the season, as after taking on champions-elect Man City, they face top-four hopefuls Man Utd and Newcastle.
Sunday’s encounter at the Etihad Stadium may pour more misery on the Pensioners’ humiliating domestic campaign as they’ve gone winless in their last 14 league matches against sides starting the day above them in the table (D4, L10).
On top of that, after losing their last five meetings with the Cityzens ‘to nil,’ Chelsea could set an unwanted club record this weekend by losing six consecutive games without scoring to a single opposition.
Lampard believes his players can either try to be as best as they can against one of Europe’s most intimidating sides or roll over and let Pep Guardiola’s high-flyers thrash them.
“We have really tough games, three of the top four, two away from home starting at Manchester City,” he added.
“If you are a player, there are two ways you can look at it — you can go ‘I don’t fancy that because it is going to be too challenging’ or you go ‘no, I’m going to show individually in my own way what I can do in the game.’
“Since I have been here I can tell there are some players who do that. The other ones I want to see if they want to show that. It’s as simple as that in terms of performance.”